There are so many things that one can attach themselves to that will drive them into an emotional frenzy or even an unwanted/uncharacteristic reaction. We are all guilty of it in some way. We define who we are by these beliefs, and by default, we knowingly and even unknowingly define ourselves in this matter to other people. We seek acceptance even when we tell ourselves we are defying or denouncing collectivism. If we took just a moment, to utilize the internet for just 1 hour or walk into a library history section and look up the numerous anti-[add issue here] movements throughout our recorded history. We would see, quite plainly really, that the need to be involved in something and to feel connected to a bigger purpose is hardwired into our very being.
Discussing our point helps to solidify our own ideologies and helps others see our point of view. If done in a proper and respectful manner it can also help build critical thinking and self-esteem. This not only helps to foster a civilized discussion but it will also allow for others to feel comfortable joining in. But what happens if you do so without accepting new information?
It is a disservice to yourself and those you are debating/discussing issues with to refuse to accept new information. It is one thing to have a disagreement when it comes to philosophical arguments and belief but it is another to disregard evidence that proves otherwise. Yet, we all do it. We are all guilty. Our political leaders, religious leaders, business leaders and social leaders are, maybe even more so, guilty in this regard. It is easier for us to live the word of what we think is right rather than accept we may be wrong.
Let me take a step back here and give a little background. I grew up in a low-income family. I learned hard and fast the life that came with drugs, no rules and no cares. Although, I never did any hard drugs that landed me into junky status I did, however, lose doors of opportunity. I once believed that our education system was a tool of control by those in power, and that there was no reason to learn half of the stuff that was given to us in class. This attitude, lead me to the achievement of a GED instead of a proper high school diploma. I was wrong. I was dumb, and I regret it. I learned from it and I went to college and then later in life went back again.
Education is power for those who have none. I used to constantly look at highly educated people as aloof and stuck up. I told myself that they weren’t as smart as they thought themselves to be. I told myself that street smarts and the hard life taught you more but I have changed my thoughts on this. I do still believe that a hard life and street smarts will teach you lessons a book cannot, but I also know it can make you jaded and closed to new information. The opposite of the spectrum is true as well. Proper education and wealth alone doesn’t necessarily make you soft and blind to the plight of those in poverty, nor does it mean that they automatically think they are better than you.
When I accepted I was wrong, the hardest thing to change was the comfort I felt when falling back into these false perceptions and logical fallacies. It takes a long time to grow. Failures are bound to come. Relapses into your old thought patterns are bound to resurface, and along the way, you will defend your stance even at the expense of looking like a dumb ass. My point is, education gives you the edge in understanding the larger picture. It gives you the tools to weed out the information created purposely to steal your thoughts from reality. Basically, it is easier to control those who are under-educated than those who are not. But, one of the greatest thing about education is that you needn’t just settle for institutional learning, although it is still very important, you can choose to learn on your own.
We fear the things that make us feel inferior because we want to be better than what we currently are. Once you realize that it is fear driving you to feel this way, you free yourself to be more open and receptive to others. Opening yourself to change is the only way to truly grow. Resistance to this type of change is just a form of selfishness and childishness.
The global connections made possible by the internet and the vast data banks it wields, provide this wealth of information. Since, it is so readily available to us now, we all can self educate more than ever before. There is, of course, a plethora of disinformation as well, but that is nothing new. Every medium of information has had its share of disinformation. Yet, we can arm ourselves against this as well. We must commit to respectful discourse, continued everyday learning, study of differing ideals and arguments, but most of all we must know the differences from opinion and studied works and start celebrating intelligence rather than degrading it to make ourselves feel better. Lastly, for those who are highly educated and do look down on others because you have that power behind you, shame, shame on you for not listening to, and learning fully from, the teachings that gave you that power.
A side note: I know that there are exceptions to every rule and that there are those who will not change, but the majority of us will. I know that, regardless of the sociopaths who are overly selfish and think they know everything, and the bleeding hearts, conservatives and religious sects that refuse to let logic see any light of day, we will continue to move forward to a better and more globally aware society.